Community, youth ‘Be the Change’ at Keyswide Challenge Days



Challenge Day, an award-winning, one-day motivational and personal growth workshop coordinated by Be the Change of the Florida Keys, Inc. (BTC) was held last week at each of the three public Monroe County high schools. School Board Member Robin Smith-Martin, who volunteered all day at the Key West High School Challenge Day, said, “Challenge Day is a powerful and valuable experience that advances a community culture of tolerance and mutual respect.” Developed to bring youth and community together, teens and adult volunteers take on issues like social isolation, bullying, substance abuse and violence as part of the serious discussion for the day. Participants are guided to “Notice, Choose and Act,” as a way to begin to create positive change in their lives, on the campus and in community. Challenge Days is one of the many programs of BTC, a community-based, grass-roots organization, which provides students a wide array of after school programs, leadership trainings and service projects year round. The variety of programs that follow Challenge Day are often initiated by students as they follow through with their commitments to being agents of positive change inspired by the Challenge Day lessons and experience.  The first event began March 10 at Key West High School, then the following day in Marathon and finally at Coral Shores High School on March 12 to give youth and community three continuous days of this powerful workshop. There were 379 students and 85 adults who attended the three days. After the active games and intentional day of encouraging and listening to students, many adults reported feeling tired. School Board Member Ron Martin, who volunteered all day at Coral Shores, addressed the volunteers and said, “That’s how you feel after just one day. Think what our teachers go through. They need more support.” Challenge Day is made possible by community collaboration. Be the Change of the Florida Keys worked with a number of community organizations and schools for the past several months to promote, directly or indirectly fund and support the day in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys.  This year it was funded by the Human Service Advisory Board, Monroe County Sheriff Department, Keys to Peace, Centennial Bank, Banana Bay Resorts & Marina of Marathon, Sundowners Restaurant of Key Largo, and Cruz Morato and Associates. Volunteer adults and trained counselors from the Guidance Clinic of the Florida Keys and various government agencies helped keep the day safe and fun.   Be the Change of the Florida Keys, Inc is a grassroots non-profit organization. The vision is that each child in Monroe County has the resources, skills and motivation to survive and thrive in school and in life. For more information about Be the Change of the Florida Keys, Inc., call Nancy Lucas at (305) 393-6413 or visit the website at:


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